Scientists and space agencies all around the world are scouring the heavens in a search for planets that could potentially harbor life. A new discovery has been made that was found using the ESO’s planet-hunting HARPS instrument. The exoplanet has been dubbed Ross 128 b and is the second closest temperate planet detected with Proxima b being the closest.
One of the most interesting facts about Ross 128 b is that it is orbiting an inactive red dwarf star. Scientists say that the star the exoplanet is orbiting could increase the likelihood of the planet sustaining life. Ross 128 b will be a target for the ESO Extremely Large Telescope and scientists will try and find biomarkers in the atmosphere of the planet using that instrument.
The red dwarf star is called Ross 128 and the exoplanet orbits the star every 9.9 days. The planet is Earth-size planet is thought to have a surface temperature close to that of Earth. Red Dwarf stars are some of the coolest, faintest, and most common stars in the Universe.
Some Red Dwarf stars throw flares that bathe orbiting planets in deadly ultraviolet and x-ray radiation, but Ross 128 is a quiet star meaning the planets orbiting it are the closest known that could support life. Ross 128 is moving toward us and could become our nearest stellar neighbor in 79,000 years.
Ross 128 b is thought to receive about 1.38 times more radiation than Earth. The temperature of the star it orbits is only half the surface temperature of our Sun. The exoplanet is predicted to have a temperature range of between -60 and 20C. Argument remains of whether the exoplanet might be in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist on its surface.